Southern Europe

Winter holidays: follow the sun

Whether you're mourning the summer we never had – or want to escape the big chill ahead – Chris Leadbeater has the hottest spots for winter holidays

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Ireland seek to end play-off woe

Five qualifying play-offs against European opposition without success is the discouraging record, but this time the Republic of Ireland hope it will be different after back-to-back wins in the last qualifying round lifted them into the seeding positions for today's draw for the Euro 2012 qualifying play-offs.

Rooney faces fierce battle to win back his starting role

Fabio Capello has warned Wayne Rooney that there is no guarantee he will automatically come back into the England team after his ban at Euro 2012, and said the Manchester United striker will not start in friendlies in the build-up to the tournament.

Time to trust in the young tyros as golden generation gives way

The assembled team have "the right combination of youth and experience" we were told on Friday as the powers that be looked ahead to a brighter 2012 following demoralising defeat last summer. But Ed Miliband's new shadow cabinet has yet to be tested. The England football team, whose captain, John Terry, used almost exactly the same expression a few hours after the Labour leader, have already faced a battle or three and emerged with distinctly mixed results.